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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Grappling with Setting Up a Great Home Gym?

So many people try to create the perfect home gym, so many people fail! Why do they fail, because they don’t choose the right equipment - they go for the obvious stuff like dumbbells and treadmills, which although they should be included, aren’t exactly the be all end all of the gym experience they’re trying to recreate.

If you’re currently grappling with great gym design, here are some of the less obvious things you should try to include, depending on your goals, at least:

A Punchbag

Every home gym should have its own punchbag, particularly one of the ones sold at, simply because they’re a great way to burn calories and cut fat, which will also improve your power and help to build up your arms. Oh, they’re a great thing to have around when you’re having a really bad day, and you just want to punch something, too!


Kettlebells build muscle, burn fat and give you a pretty good anaerobic workout all in one go, and they’re only a few inches wide, which means they’re ideal for home gym use. If you want to make the most of them, get a few in different sizes, so you can do more and keep progressing as you build muscle and resistance.

A Grappling Dummy

If you practice any kind of martial arts of wrestling, where you will have to physically touch another person, then it’s worth investing in one of the dummies at, for your home gym. That way, you can work on perfecting your moves even when you aren’t at your Dojo or gym. It’ll give you the edge over your fellow fighters who don’t have their own well-equipped gym at home!

A TRX Suspension Training Kit

If you’ve been in a gym lately, you’ll probably have noticed a TRX suspension training kit in prominent place. That’s because they offer a complete body workout without taking up very much space at all, and in a home gym, where you probably don’t have masses of space to work with, they can be a complete lifesaver too.

A Balance Trainer

Balance trainers are fantastic to have in any home gym. Why? Quite simply because they supercharge any other exercise you of by forcing you to think more about your core, keeping it active, so that your abs develop more and you’re always strong and stable.

A Pull-Up Bar

Pull-up bars take up virtually no space at all, but if you’ve ever tried to do a pull-up, you’ll know just how much effort it takes, and if you've done pull-ups regularly, you’ll know just how much it develops your arm and back muscles.It’s a must-have in any home gym.

A Clear Space

Leaving a clear space in your home gym, which is big enough that you can lie down or hold your arms out to the sides without encountering any obstacles is a really good idea. It means you can do floor exercises like yoga and Pilates, swing a kettlebell with ease and do a whole host of other activities safely.

Now it’s time to get ripped!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Is Exercising Easy? Nope. Worth It? Absolutely.


Even the buffest, most trim and in shape of people suffer from a sudden loss gym-spiration from time to time, so don’t worry if you’ve found your exercise mojo has dropped faster than a metal bell through deep water. Hitting the gym requires time, effort, dedication, health and a whole host of other variables that need to be in order. If one of these starts to waver then the rest will topple; that’s what makes staying motivated so tough. It is as much a mental battle as it is a physical one.

But no matter how much your get-up-and-go may be depleted, your lack of motivation is not what you should be focussing on; it’s what happens next that matters most. With that in mind, we recently asked members of the Body-Buildin community what they do to stay motivated, whether it be after an injury, trying to break through a wall on their way to a heavier lift or just trying to make it through a tough workout.

Read on to see the amazing tips and tricks they shared with us. Chances are, they’re going to help you fall back in love with all things gym.


1. Keep A Diary, Man

Anyone that has ever created a vision board will know just how motivating it is to see your goals on a daily basis. Well, the same principle goes for seeing how far you’ve come. Hitting the gym in order to build muscle, lose weight or tone up certain areas can be a long, slow and almost invisible process, which is where a diary really comes into its own. You will be able to see just how far you have come in black and white. It could be noting down how far you’re able to run, how much you are able to lift or taking a photo of yourself before every session. Seeing that you are actually improving is a great motivator; it makes you strive to achieve more. Success breeds success, so make sure you see exactly what successes you have had.

2. Write How You Felt

Sticking with the diary-thing for a moment, another great tip that many of the people we spoke to shared was this idea of writing down how you feel after each workout. Make this part of your routine. Why? Because you’ll find in those moments where motivation is somewhat lacking, you’ll have a file of letters you wrote to yourself that detail just how amazing you felt after getting stuck in. It may have been a five-mile run, an interval training session or an hour of just maxing out your strength; whatever it is, by remembering just how amazing you felt after a session you’ll be compelled to hunt that feeling down again.

3. A Gym That Does More

Hitting a gym can become a remarkably tedious process, especially if all they offer is weights room with a few different cardio machines. However, if you find a gym that offers more than just this, you’ll find that you have more reason to go, which is a hugely important factor in boosting your motivation. So, have a look at your local gym’s websites, see which offers what and then look for the ‘sign up here’ page on your chosen one. Having a great gym space is crucial, there’s no denying that. But having a gym that has 24-hour access, classes on offer, a smoothie bar, sauna, kids club, tanning booths and a massage salon is going to really amp up your chances of walking through their doors, and that is half the battle.


4. Trick yourself Into It

That’s right. Trick yourself into going. Now, this may sound totally impossible, but there are in fact ways you can do this and one of the most popular is only washing your hair on days where you have worked out. This is a great way to force yourself into hitting the gym (if you have hair, that is) because it’s that or face the ridicule of your peers for having greasy locks. Another neat little trick on this front is to get changed into your workout gear. Even if you really can’t be bothered to workout, pop on your gear. Trust us, you’ll feel like a knob pretty quick if you have to get changed out of your running gear when you haven’t even been for a run. Trust us on that one. 

5. Group Classes Totally Work

One of the oldest and bestest tricks in the motivation handbook is the group class. You have more reason to go than just yourself. You go because you want to see the other people in the class, and the instructor for that matter. You want to go because you don’t want to have to explain that you were too lazy to turn up last week. But more than anything, you find that your motivation levels pique while you are there because the energy in a group is what keeps pushing you on, even when you feel that niggling urge to quit. No one wants to be that person in a group that quits and leaves early. No one. It’s like the group atmosphere holds you accountable, and that is what will see you achieve so much more than you would if you were just working out on your own. 

6. Use The Buddy-Up System

Find that friend, coworker, family member or gym-acquaintance that has similar goals as you do and then work together to reach those dreams. Being part of a two-person team is a great way to stay motivated and encourage one another to keep pushing. You help each other. You celebrate each other’s successes and help them overcome their moments of weakness. You end up working harder for longer, and you develop another kind of bond. That, and if you do try and skip out on a session, the guilt will start to eat away at you big time; you haven’t just let yourself down, you’ve let your buddy down too. There are only two of you, so if you call it quits one day then they are left on their lonesome. That can be quite the motivating factor to throw into the mix. 


7. Listen To Something

As great as the gym radio may be, it probably isn’t quite to your taste. We are all different. We all go through different moods and that means we all have different music choices that will motivate us better than others at different times. Realise this and use it. Create some playlists on iTunes that will help you get pumped up depending on your moods or find some Spotify workout playlists that will do the same thing while also introducing you to music. It could be hip-hop, heavy metal, electro-punk or classical music; so long as it gets you going you can’t go wrong. Of course, it doesn’t have to be music you listen to. It could be that you pop on an audiobook while you are running, or you could find a podcast that you can’t stop listening too. Either way, if you have something dancing on your brain that makes you want to keep going then your body will follow suit. You’ll also find yourself hitting the gym the next day to see just how the story plays out or hear the next chapter on your podcast.

8. Use Instagram To Boost Ya

We live in a day and age where Instagram rules the roost. A lot of the time it can have a negative impact on your psychology. You are comparing your behind the scenes footage to another person’s highlight reel, which tends to have a detrimental effect. However, you can use it to motivate you too. It could be following a few people that always post gym-selfies, the kind of images that show you what hard work can achieve, or it could be that you use your exercising to post your own photos. It could be your progress you document on Instagram, or you could take a more scenic route on your next run and put up some photos along the way. Either way, there is another element to enjoy.


9. Run Like Your Life Depends On It

If you’re a fan of jumping down the rabbit hole of exercise blogs, then you’ve probably heard of the app Zombies, Run! If you haven’t, though, you need to stop reading this article (as soon as you’ve finished, obviously) and then head to whatever app store you are using, download this genius motivator and then store it on your home screen somewhere. The reason why is simple: nothing is going to make you run harder for longer than the sound of the walking dead groaning in your ear. It could be that you use this on your next cardio day, or it could be that you use it to motivate you while you lift weights - the stronger you are the more zombies you can take down, right? This thing really does work.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Back Pain. When Does It Mean More Than A Back Problem?

Back pain is a very widespread problem: according to the research carried out by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) in 2010, about 80% of Americans experience a back pain at least once in their lifetime, while on a larger scale, up to half the world’s population suffers from different kinds of a backache. It varies from a dull and consistent (or chronic) to sharp and intense pain, that eventually takes away the capacity for free movement. Once, you take your favorite pair of good crossfit shoes, go to the gym and suddenly pierces you. 

There are lots of reasons, causing it: back pain can appear suddenly as a result of injury, a fall, an effort to lift a heavy weight – or progressively increasing and getting worse because of natural age-related spinal changes. Whatever the reason, we often take the problem carelessly hoping that it’ll get better on its own, which is the worst strategy ever. Remember that pain isn’t our enemy, on the contrary, it’s a friendly signal that keeps us out of trouble, saying that something’s wrong, so never ignore it.

In more than 80% of cases, the back hurts because of muscular overload, long periods of being in the same position (when sleeping, using a computer), hypothermia, or old injuries. But about 20% of people have back problems as a consequence of other serious health problems and diseases, beginning from infections and bladder disorder, ending with cancer.

Thus, severe pain in the middle back or in one of the sides can be caused by kidney stones, which, as a rule, require a professional treatment: some of them are usually broken with ultrasound or the lithotripter, and the bigger ones can be removed surgically only. The stones must be sent to the lab in order to find out the cause of its formation.

Lower back pain is also often caused by kidney infections that need to be urgently treated with antibiotics and painkillers. If unpleasant feelings in the abdomen are turning into a pain in the back, this may be pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). In the case of a sharp pain – again, an immediate surgery is required. Back pain can be a symptom of pancreatic cancer, usually along with other symptoms like a rapid weight loss.

If your back pain is moving to the ribs and shoulders, it may be caused by infection or inflammation of the bladder or gallbladder. The consistent ache in the pelvic and back in combination with frequent urination is often a signal of cystitis (more common for women). Patients may need painkillers, antidepressants, and even surgery.

So, when does it mean more than just a back problem? When there are some other changes in the body:

  • fever & chills (of course, in this case, the back pain may be a consequence of the flu, but! an unresponsive fever “is indicative of something more synthetic”, says orthopedic surgeon Richard Guyer, MD, founder of the Texas Back Institute and Associate Clinical Professor of Orthopedics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School);
  • redness;
  • changes in body functions;
  • swelling;
  • weight loss (it can be caused by infections and even tumors, especially when it’s unexplained, rapid, and unexpected);
  • blood in the urine;
  • numbness or tingling in the legs (“You might think that you can stop numbness or prickly tingling with over-the-counter medication, but this is usually an indication of nerve irritation or damage and is clinically more significant than your typical pain”, says New York City chiropractor Todd Sinett in his book The Truth About Back Pain. If those feelings won’t go away, it may be a signal of a herniated disc or spinal stenosis);
  • light tapping of the spine is painful.
What Is The Referred (Reflective) Pain?

According to Dictionary of Medical Terms (4th edition) by A & C Black, referred pain (same as synalgia) is a pain which is felt in one part of the body but is caused by a condition in another part. So that when the back pain means more than a back problem, it’s a reflective or referred pain.

“The problem with assuming is that we often see people who have medical issues that are mistaken as only a spine issue, when it could be a medical issue on its own — or a combination of the two,” says physical medicine/rehab specialist Tagreed Khalaf, MD.

Always keep it in mind that our body is wired in such a way that any type of health problem affects almost all organs, as our body is a unified system. That’s the reason why a back pain often has nothing to do with back problems, but actually, can deal with:

  • various urinary infections (chlamydia, ureaplasma etc.);
  • intestinal diseases, as well as problems with G.I.;
  • hemorrhoids;
  • cancer;
  • complications of a cold or flu;
  • radiculitis.
Unfortunately, most often, people ignore a backache until it begins to bother to live their usual lives. And that’s the real problem, as the more severe pain you have, the more serious stage of the disease is (and, of course, it’s more difficult to treat it).

Spinal Problems

Spinal issues also belong to the back problems group, usually they manifest themselves in lower back pains, but however, they can be extremely serious as well, so we cannot but mention them. If your ache is constant and strong, you’d better visit a doctor to exclude (or to confirm) the possibility of such spinal problems:

  • various spinal defects, including spina bifida;
  • the processes of the vertebrae are deformed (longer or shorter than normal);
  • osteoporosis;
  • arthrosis;
  • a pinched nerve;
  • spinal disc herniation;
  • spasm;
  • sclerosis.
The Most Frequent Referred Back Pain Reasons

Usually, back synalgia happens as a result of such health problems:

  • Appendicitis – You can feel the ache either only in the right side or somewhere further back, so that it’s hard to determine where is the exact location of the pain.
  • Problems with the intestine – Intestinal cancer, intestinal obstruction, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcer etc.
  • Cholecystitis – An inflammation of the gallbladder, a small organ that plays a part in digesting food.
  • Pancreatitis – In this case, you’ll fill the ache all over your lower back.
  • Adhesions – They usually appear after a surgery, and may cause pain in different areas, including the back (when the adhesions are forming near the abdominal organs).
  • Kidneys problems – Back pain is a very common symptom of various kidney diseases. In this case, the pain is localized mainly in the side with the ill kidney. If the disease is systemic, the pain is vague and rather strong.
  • Infections – Some infections (like the urogenital system infection or intestinal infection) cause the back pain which is both a symptom and a consequence. So, with an intestinal infection, the lower back often hurts, and the pain is quite strong and constant so that it spreads all over the waist area.
  • Tumors – In cases of both benign and malignant tumors, back pains may arise, indicating the possible growth of the formations.
Women’s Referred Back Pain

Very often the gender plays a huge role in revealing the cause of back pain. It is a direct symptom of several female illnesses:

  • Gynecology-related – Inflammation of appendages or a common cold, which can be accompanied by severe pain in the lower abdomen, reflecting on the lower back.
  • Pregnancy – The pressure on the spine becomes much stronger and therefore women often complain about the pain in the lower back, which obviously causes great discomfort. Unlike the previous one, this reason is almost harmless. Nevertheless, back pain during pregnancy can indicate a premature birth, but in this case, there will also be other, more specific symptoms.
  • Climax – Because of the imminent serious changes in the woman's body, back pain can arise as one of the symptoms of menopause.
  • External factors impact – Rather often women’s back pain can be just a sign of stress, depression, lots of pressure, fatigue.
  • PMS – Virtually all women complain about lower back pain a few days before and during the first days of menstruation.
Men’s Referred Back Pain

There are several specific reasons that can cause back pain in men:

  • The heavy physical workload on the male body, overloading, stretching of the muscles.
  • Prostatitis – swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland.
  • Epididymitis – an inflammation of the epididymis, a tube near the testicles that stores and carries sperm.

Mostly, men tend to endure pain and go to the doctor only if it becomes impossible to stand it. In this case, you should realize that the longer you bite the bullet, the more difficult and longer it is to treat your illness.

Classification or Variety of Pain

There exist lots of different back pain classifications, but the most substantial one distinguishes two main forms of it: constant and acute back pain. The first kind usually says about gradual, sustained changes in the body (like dystrophy), signals about spinal injuries, or may warn of possible cancer, osteomyelitis, and other serious diseases. The second one deals with regular temporary “shots” of ache, which can be the symptom of strained muscles, spinal disc herniation, nephritis, PMS, and hundreds of other “non-relevant” illnesses.

Constant back pain

When the back pain is constant, getting worse and continues for more than 4-6 weeks, it may indicate such illnesses:

  1. Cancer (a tumor near the spine) - the pain doesn’t depend on the position or activity, getting worse at night and when pulling weights.
  2. Spinal infections - tuberculosis, osteomyelitis, syphilis and other diseases.
  3. Myalgia (a chronic inflammation of muscle tissue).
  4. Ankylosing spondylitis - long term back pain accompanied by prolonged morning stiffness (more common for men).
Acute back pain

Sharp, severe, and unexpected pain attacks also be an indicator of a serious disease:

1. In the lower back

This is the most popular location of acute back pain – lower back pain is the reason to visit a doctor (finally!) for many. It doesn’t disappear, regularly showing up at the worst possible time. It can be caused by totally back problems:

  • hyperextension of the muscles (you’ll feel a strong, piercing pain, blocking your movements, that’s not going to pass as soon as you want)
  • fracture (the pain is so strong that a person’s not able to move, as any effort of doing a motion provokes even more painful attack)
  • deviation column or displacement of vertebrae (the pain is acute, harsh, and restricting the movement so that the person is forced to stay in the same position)
  • abscess, facet syndrome.
  • Acute pain in the lower back says about such “irrelevant” health problems: kidney stones, intestinal issues, urinary tract, cyst breakout (for women), pyelonephritis, pancreatitis aggravation, gallstones, myocardial infarction, esophagus break, aortic aneurysm.
2. In the blades area

Pain is a warning signal of possible osteomyelitis, benign tumors and blade sarcomas, myocardial infarction.

3. Under the left blade

This one also is an indicator of myocardial infarction, ruptured peptic ulcer.

4. Upper back pain

Acute pain in this area may be caused by pneumothorax, pleurisy, lung cancer and many other serious diseases, which require urgent treatment.

Is It Physical or Mental?

In addition to the reasons described above, the physical pain (especially, in the lower back) doesn’t necessarily have (only) physical causes, but can also be caused by psychological factors. Mental reasons of pain are scientifically proven and recognized by modern medicine. Doctor John Sarno explains in his book Healing Back Pain: “It is an interesting fact that the overwhelming majority of emotional and mental activity occurs below the level of consciousness. The human mind is something like an iceberg. The part that we are aware of, the conscious mind, represents a very small part of the total. It is in the subconscious mind that all of the complicated processing goes on…… This condition begins and ends in the unconscious.”

How to Prevent?

In order to avoid back pain or at least ease it, following a healthy lifestyle is the first thing to do. It includes a complex of daily actions and habits aimed at improving your physical condition, but the essential issues are a balanced diet and doing exercises regularly.

Thus, if you exercise 20 minutes a day (at home, on the street, at the gym, whatever), you will strengthen your back muscles well. If you don’t eat too many high-fat products, you can avoid G.I. problems, which often cause different illnesses, including back pain.

In addition, never forget to visit a doctor at least once a year, even if you feel perfect and it seems like nonsense.

Final Word

Constant back pain is a good reason to visit a doctor because you can’t determine exactly if it’s just a back problem or a symptom of some other, more serious and dangerous disease. Without timely investigation and treatment, it may lead to serious consequences. Better safe than sorry, right?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Diet - Mastering The Other 90% Of Weight Loss

We all know that exercise is important to losing weight. If you expend more energy than you intake, then you’re guaranteed to lose weight in the vast majority of cases. It’s that simple. However, exercise isn’t always the simplest solution. It’s a lot less effort to simply intake fewer calories than it is to burn them. That’s why many will claim that diet is 90% of all weight loss efforts. But how do you get more out of that 90%?

Less is more

Portion control is often the most troublesome effort of eating healthily for many. If you’re used to eating a lot, your appetite will adapt to that. You can trick your belly by eating high-volume, low-mass foods, as highlighted in this Guide To Maximising Food Volume When Dieting For Weight Loss. Popcorn’s a good example of that. It’s lightweight, so you can eat more of it than you would other foods. Your belly gets tricked by the maximized food volume, but you’re eating less than usual. In time, however, you want to get naturally used to eating less, as far as volume is concerned.

Beating your worst self

Of course, your cravings can get in the way of that, to the point that it feels like they have much more sway over you than your own head does. Finding some resilience is crucial, but there are some tips to help you trick those cravings, as well. Drinking more water, chewing more gum, and eating more protein-rich foods can make a big difference, for instance. But having food prepared is a big improvement, too. For instance, if you come home from work feeling tired, you might not want to start preparing a meal from scratch. Having one partially prepared in the fridge can make it a lot easier to avoid dialing up a takeout instead.

Can you change your metabolism?

Everyone has a metabolic rate, chiefly that at which they naturally burn their calories. While your metabolism isn’t everything to the thermodynamics of weight loss, it can help you get an extra edge. And there are ways to improve your metabolism. Beyond all the normal aspects of healthy life such as good sleep and plenty of exercise, good detox teas can help, too. Look at The Ultimate Guide To Using Detox Tea For Weight Loss as a resource for finding the right one. The better your metabolism, the more all your other weight loss efforts are going to pay off. Just don’t make the mistake of believing that metabolism is the end all and be all. Diet and exercise are still crucial.

Track absolutely everything

Finding out that metabolic rate of yours is crucial to determining the core of your diet, as well. Your Body Mass Index is not only going to tell you which category your body falls into but how many calories you should be eating per day. The only way to make sure you stick in that range is to start a food diary and calorie counting. Beyond helping you keep track, it will also help highlight some of the cravings and bad food habits that you’re particularly prone to.

A diet should encompass more than just how much you eat, of course. Nutritional content is always vital. But focusing on portion and calorie control and making use of which diets work best for you can be an effective start to build from.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

5 Tips To Make Eating Healthy Easy


Eating healthy can be a pain. You need to have the correct ingredients and enough time in your day to cook them correctly. However, there are some useful methods for eating healthy that make it a breeze.

Make Food In Bulk

If you have a recipe that you enjoy, then just make that food in bulk. Cook a large pan’s worth and put portions into plastic tubs. These tubs can then be kept in the fridge for later in the week or frozen for even further in the future. Spending some extra time preparing your meals in this way means that if you struggle for time or ingredients, then all you need to do is reheat something. Do bear in mind though about how long you can keep food fresh in the fridge and freeze, and be sure that it is piping hot before eating.

Buy Pre-Prepared Meals

It may come as a surprise, but if you decide to buy meals like this, they can be healthy. You just need to find the right brands and dishes. A little bit of research goes a long way, and many of these kinds of products can be bought and stored in the freezer or fridge for later consumption. This makes them incredibly convenient and super healthy at the same time. There are also companies that make meals and deliver them fresh directly to you. For example, a Muscle Up Meals prepared meal can be ordered online, and they are all healthy recipes created by their in-house chef. Utilizing services like this can help you to eat healthy with ease.

Eating Out Doesn’t Need To Be Unhealthy

If you enjoy visiting restaurants, then you don’t have to worry about eating unhealthily. If you stay away from overly fatty items and instead stick to vegetables and healthy meats like lean beef or chicken breast, then you can enjoy eating at a restaurant without worrying if the meal is unhealthy. There is also the option of checking the number of calories in a meal through an app like MyFitnessPal if you are unsure. Certain restaurants will even list the amount of calories in a specific dish and have a healthy meals section on their menu.

Order Grocery Shopping Online

If you order your groceries online, then your previous shops will be stored on your specific account. Many stores will allow you to quickly and easily reorder the same shop as you did previously. This means that if you don’t need to spend time worrying about adding everything to your basket again or having to find time to visit an actual store. Instead, just hit the reorder button to get all the ingredients you need for your favourite healthy meals. It is worth checking that you haven’t included one-off purchases such as bulk buys of things like chia seeds that you don’t need in every shop. Other than that though, this will consistently save you time and make eating healthy easier.

Try and Make It Fun

If you can start to find a way to enjoy eating and making healthy food, then the entire experience is going to feel much easier. You won’t feel like you ‘have to’ go home and cook a meal from scratch. Instead, you will end up looking forward to getting back and cooking a meal that you find delicious.